OPINION: Challenge politicians for ridiculous lockdowns and hypocrisy

By Garrett Kessler and Chris Rysz

When the coronavirus hit the United States in early 2020, not much was known about the virus, which led to rapid closures of businesses and schools. Thankfully, due to the work of medical experts and scientists, we now have more detailed knowledge about who is affected and where transmission increases. But even though we have this data, many of our politicians are enacting COVID-19 policy that isn’t consistent with the data, and some of them are being hypocrites while doing so. While there is a way to be safe and healthy through reasonable policy, there is no excuse for politicians to pass ridiculous lockdowns that strip freedoms of everyday Americans and business owners.

As the U.S. exceeds over 410,000 COVID-19 deaths as of January, it is abundantly clear that this disease has taken a historical toll on our country and the world. However, many of these American lives could have been saved if it weren’t for terrible policies enacted by our politicians throughout the pandemic. One of the biggest types of COVID-19 policy are lockdowns and they include(d) schools, indoor and/or outdoor dining and various other small businesses. 

When the lockdowns were first put in place, there was a degree of understanding due to the limited information that the medical officials and public had about COVID-19. However, lockdowns have either simply not worked or only delay the spread of the virus. According to TrendMacro and anonymized cell phone tracking, when COVID-19 first struck, New Jersey, New York and Michigan had very strict lockdowns, but during March and April of 2020, each of the states’ cases continued to rise. Even now, as California still has some of the nation’s strongest restrictions, their cases, ICU capacity and deaths all continue to rise, according to the state government’s website. If these lockdowns aren’t stopping the spread of this disease, then it is delaying the inevitable. For example, Florida was locked down until mid-May and when they opened up, that’s when their notorious spike occurred. 

In addition, there is no medical basis for some forms of COVID-19 policy, because in a local San Francisco news site, Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease scientist at the University of California San Francisco, said there are no clear links to outdoor dining and the spread of the virus. Just like outdoor dining, schools are not a place where transmission is common. 

“The more and more data that I see, the more comfortable I am that children are not, in fact, driving transmission, especially in school settings,” infectious disease modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health, Brooke Nichols said, for a report in the New York Times.

According to that Oct. 22, 2020 report, the lack of transmission in schools most certainly applies to elementary schools. Speaking from experience within our district, most COVID-19 cases among high school students did not occur at school, but rather at social gatherings that did not include social distancing or masks. 

While elitist billionaires like Bill Gates will argue for lockdowns, it is important for Americans to understand the consequences of these closures on businesses. Small businesses, which include lots of restaurants, are not millionaires that have a lot of cash stacked up in the back room; they rely on meeting margins every day, week and month. When these days, weeks and months are very restricted or locked down, it is impossible for many of these businesses to survive. In fact, according to the Havard-run database that tracks the economic impact of the virus, TrackTheRecovery.org, New Jersey has lost 31.2 percent of its small businesses during the pandemic. That number is absolutely staggering and demonstrates our leaders stripping away people’s right to live and work. The fact that our country prides itself on its freedoms and still is able to have states’ take away businesses’ ability to survive is terrible and a lesson we must never get used to or else, this freedom-stripping will become all too familiar. 

On that note, some politicians think it’s OK to impose restrictions and lockdowns, while acting above the law as they eat at five-star restaurants or fly to Cabo. Various California politicians, including Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, all of whom support strict COVID-19 restrictions, have been caught eating indoors, with zero social distancing. We’re not saying that Newsom should not be eating indoors as he’s seemingly fit and in good health. Therefore, he should be able to eat indoors (and outdoors), but so should the citizens of California, something that he has not allowed. Another pathetic example of a hypocritical politician was Austin mayor Steve Adler (D-Texas) advising people to stay home. The problem was that in the video he issued to advise the people of Austin, the backdrop was literally his Cabo timeshare. We understand that it was legal and safe for him to fly to Cabo, but it really doesn’t look good when you tell the citizens of Austin to stay home because COVID-19 is dangerous and spreading, and then fly out of the country.  

Perhaps the biggest hypocrite on COVID-19 was governor-turned media celebrity Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y). Along with enacting a nursing home mandate that killed up to 6,600 nursing home patients, according to Business Insider, on Aug. 14, 2020. Cuomo planned to have a Thanksgiving gathering with his daughters and his 89-year-old mother, while urging New Yorkers to cancel their family gatherings. Although Cuomo eventually canceled his own plans on Thanksgiving, the fact that he openly described his intentions, while advising New Yorkers to stay home, shows how he contradicts the very thing he preaches. 

Listen, we don’t actually care what the Cuomo family decides to do on Thanksgiving, but don’t let down your constituents by being a hypocrite on this hotly debated issue. Most recently, Cuomo tweeted that we “must reopen the economy” which is pretty hilarious since he literally banned outdoor dining shortly before this. Perhaps the craziest thing about that tweet is that he has been advocating for lockdowns for months on end, but as soon as Trump was getting impeached and Biden was about to take office, Cuomo wants to be the hero and help NYC open again. 

Even though we have argued that much of the COVID policy enacted isn’t logical, what we are advocating for is exercising individual liberty and common-sense reasoning. If you are fearful of the virus spreading to yourself or your household, stay home and wait for the vaccine to be available to you. Stay away from older relatives with preexisting conditions unless absolutely necessary, and wear a mask if you are around them. These are choices that each person and family should make, rather than the government. Just because elected officials have a fancy title and are on T.V. everyday, it does not mean that they are smarter than us or that they can direct us on how to live our lives. It is up to the American people to stand up to these power-grabbing hypocrites and hold them accountable for disregarding the facts and stripping away the right to live.